The Self-Righteous Cockroach
By David Hartley Mark
There was a cockroach who, despite living a filthy life, being scorned by the other denizens of the animal kingdom, and having difficulty earning their trust, had yet another fault: he could never tell the truth. Other animals and more industrious insects shunned him, but he never noticed: he was also an egotist, braggart, and narcissist. Sycophant flies clustered around him, since he always knew where to find the choicest offal.
Despite the cockroach's disagreeable lifestyle, he lived richly for a roach, never realizing the utter decay and disgrace of his surroundings. He felt himself to female cockroaches, despite their bringing lawsuits against him from time to time, for using his heavy weight and extensive antennae to take liberties with their shells and lower parts. The cockroach thought nothing of these legal matters; he kept a stable of renegade owls to defend him in Animal Court, usually countersued his opponents, or settled out of court.
The cockroach—whose name was Lump—might have gone on living his hedonistic lifestyle, moving from mate to mate, and always seeking out a pile of excrement to erect into what he considered a fitting monument to his greatness. One day, however, he heard that the animals were having an election, and, after making a bet with a scorpion that he could win, entered the race.
It was a great surprise to one and all when the cockroach won. The Animal Authorities suspected Foul Play—they knew that the cockroach's fly-cohorts had been seen having carrion with some from . A rumor spread that the had crawled into the voting machines and altered them, so that a vote for the opponent, a female moose of some doubtful political characteristics named , translated into a vote for Lump, the Cockroach. Nothing could be proven, however, and so Cockroach Lump was elected Animal President Lump.
The animals strove to return to their routine lives, expecting their new president to be similar to his predecessors, if a bit slower to learn Animal Federal Procedures. They were surprised and shocked to learn that their new leader did not put his legislative proposals through the normal channels—that is, the Animal Parliament—but, rather, made assemblages of filth, carrion, and excrement in the Animal House garden, forming it into sentences which were both questionable in meaning and smelly. On the first day, a plover circling over the Presidential Palace spotted Lump's Lumps of carrion, laid out to read:
BILLARY TRIED TO STEAL THE ELECTION
THE WATERBUGS UPSET HER SCHEME
WHERE WAS OUR ANIMAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION?
IT LIES IN SHREDS, BUT I WILL RESTORE IT
TO ITS FORMER GREATNESS
Upon closer examination, Animal Agents of the ABI, studying President Lump's Poopy Piles, found evidence that the , together with an Irish Setter named Glynn (he was Lump's Chief of ), had provided the offal to construct the sentences.
During a press conference, the Sparrow- and Wren-Reporters questioned Lump extensively about the Poopy Pile, but he denied any involvement, and referred them to Glynn, the Setter. The following Monday, Glynn tendered his resignation. Alarmed, the Animal Parliament—which consisted largely of members of Lump's Insect Party—called for an investigation, due to animal outcry. The head of the investigative team was a retired head of the ABI, a bloodhound named , who was known for being both perspicacious and patient.
Lump, seeing he would have to defend himself, fell back on his Poopy Pile method. A flock of Canada geese heading for warmer climes spotted the scum of Lump's efforts:
GLYNN IS INNOCENT, AND DID NOTHING WRONG. HE RESIGNED BECAUSE HE COMMUNICATED WITH THE WATERBUGS DIRECTLY. I FIRED HIM, EVEN THOUGH HE DID NOTHING WRONG.
SNIFFOR WILL FIND NOTHING WRONG DONE BY ME.
I AM INNOCENT—BELIEVE ME!
"It all looks very suspicious," said a Sparrow to a Wren.
"It's all the fault of ," said Lump, as a press . He then went on to
commit more animal troops to foreign countries, recognize the City of Peace as the capital of Canaan—which led to immediate war—and cut back the acreage in National Parks.
was in an uproar. Both parties wrangled in Parliament, the Animal media buzzed nonstop, and Lump went off to play Flog and construct his Poopy Piles.
No one knew what might happen next.
Only the Bloodhound licked his paw, and kept on with his investigation.
When you vote for a cockroach who gives off a stink
Don't be surprised at how he will think—
And if his life, his dwelling, his house,
You may end up wishing you'd elected a louse.